History of Parkinson’s Research at the Department of Defense
Created in 1997 by former Congressman Joe McDade (D-PA), the Department of Defense (DoD) Neurotoxin Exposure Treatment Parkinson’s Research (NETPR) Program has funded over $350 million of Parkinson’s research since its inception. This national, peer-reviewed, dual-use grant program funds biomedical research grants that examine how to best protect military personnel from toxic substances, head injury, and other known contributors to Parkinson’s disease. In addition to helping protect our soldiers, research breakthroughs in prevention, detection, and treatment are immediately applied to the broader Parkinson’s disease community.
Benefits to Our Soldiers
At a time when significant pressure is placed on warfighters, NETPR program research identifies the effects of environmental and operational hazards and provides the basis for strategies to sustain and enhance the health and performance of our soldiers. Troops are routinely exposed to a wide range of toxins and other external stressors, such as head trauma, that may lead to the development of Parkinson’s disease. Understanding how these exposures occur, the incidence of disease afterwards, and how these conditions may be effectively prevented, treated, or cured will allow the Department of Defense to better protect military personnel.
For over a decade, the NETPR program has funded forward-looking research that provides the Department of Defense with innovations in materiel design, avoidance protocols for unnecessary harmful exposures, and neuroprotective drugs to prevent damage in the first place. Every NETPR program grant must have a direct warfighter application.
Benefits to the Broader Parkinson’s Community
NETPR program funded research also provides the broader Parkinson’s disease community with information on how to combat the second largest neurological disorder in the United States. Research breakthroughs in prevention, detection, and treatment of Parkinson’s disease, may be immediately applied to civilians—particularly the more than one million Americans living with the disease, including nearly 80,000 veterans and 60,000 newly diagnosed each year.
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